Scottville’s water rates are average, not the highest

April 3, 2013

By Rob Alway

SCOTTVILLE – The City of Scottville is most likely going to raise its water and sewer rates. The inevitable rate increase is due to an annual rate increase charged by the City of Ludington which Scottville buys its water and sewer services from.

Several people have commented negatively on Facebook about this rate increase, stating Scottville has extremely high water rates already. However, compared to other Michigan municipalities similar in size, Scottville’s rates are average.

One has to take into account water and sewer rates, which are normally listed separately, along with meter rates for each utility as well.

Scottville charges a water usage charge of $12.24 a month and $2.60 per 1,000 gallons, which is how much it pays Ludington (Ludington charges Scottville $1.31 per 100 cubic foot, which equals approximately $1.75 per 1,000 gallons; there are 133.681 cubic feet in 1,000 gallons).

Scottville charges a sewer usage charge of $23.62 per month and $5.67 per 1,000 gallons. Ludington charges Scottville about $1.51 per 1,000 gallons.

For the sake of simplifying, we will combine the usage charges, which means Scottville charges $35.86 per month usage charge.

If you used 1,000 gallons in a month (water and sewer are metered equally with the presumption that whatever water you use is how much sewage you use) your bill would be $44.13.

Comparatively, Kalkaska residents pay a $41 a month usage charge ($12.50; $28.50) and $1.20 per 1,000 gallons for water and $2 per 1,000 gallons for sewer. Using the same amount of water, a Kalkaska resident would be $44.20, a few cents more than a Scottville resident.

Baldwin charges $49.83 a month usage fee ($19.48; $30.35) and $1.85 per 1,000 gallons of water and $5.54 per 1,000 gallons for sewer. That resident’s bill would be $57.22 for 1,000 gallons.

Chatham is a village located in the Upper Peninsula’s Alger County. It charges $53.50 usage fee ($26.75 for each) and $5.00 for water and sewer per 1,000 gallons. That resident’s bill would be $58.50.

Frankfort charges $29.74 per month usage ($10.24; $19.50) and $2.27 for water and $4.45 for sewer. For 1,000 gallons, that resident’s monthly bill would be $36.46.

Pere Marquette Township in 2011 charged $7.67 usage ($4.33; $3.34) and $4.01 for water and $5.01 for sewer. For 1,000 gallons, that resident’s monthly bill would be $16.69.

Though compared to Ludington and Pere Marquette Township Scottville’s water and sewer rates seem high, they are not the highest around.

“What people need to understand is that we are paying off a $4 million sewer project. When we faced the issue of replacing the sewer system, which we had to do, there was no money banked up for it,” Scottville City Manager Amy Williams said. “If we do not keep up with the rates being charged by Ludington, our residents will again face this dilemma in the future, when other major infrastructure needs to be replaced in the water and sewer system.”

Williams said she understands that the rates seem high compared to Ludington, but the city has no choice but to charge what it charges.

“We would love to be able to charge less, but that wouldn’t be fiscally responsible,” she said. “Our city runs on a tight budget as it is. There is no room to cut prices of water and sewer.” “The water & sewer funds are Enterprise Funds which mean they must generate enough income to pay for their own expenses, they run just as any business would”; there are no tax dollars spent on water & sewer.”

Williams said another reason why rates are lower in Ludington and Pere Marquette Township is because those municipalities have higher populations.

“They have more people to spread the costs out with. The smaller the city/service area the less people that are paying for the costs so the higher amount they must pay.

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